BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health on Friday, Jan. 22, reported three COVID-19 deaths and a small increase in active cases.

The state's active virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped since a November peak that marked the worst flare-up in the country. Now, the Upper Midwest appears to be in substantially better shape even as a severe national outbreak persists in warmer regions such as the South and Southwest.

The deaths reported Friday came from Benson, Cass and Morton counties, and included a man in his 40s and a woman in her 50s, both much younger than the average age of North Dakotans who have died with the virus.

The state health department reported a small increase in active cases, bringing the total of known virus positives to 1,184. Fifty-three people are hospitalized with the virus in North Dakota, down one from the day before.

With North Dakota's active virus numbers seeming to plateau in recent days, the state's current outbreak is comparable to that of late August, when the fall surge was just beginning.

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The department reported 196 new cases on Friday, including:

  • 32 from Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck.
  • 32 from Cass County, which includes Fargo.
  • 25 from Ward County, which includes Minot.
  • 14 from Williams County, which includes Williston.

North Dakota is among the national leaders in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. The state has administered more first vaccine doses per capita than almost any other state in the country, behind just West Virginia, Alaska and Connecticut, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine tracker. The Department of Health reports that North Dakota has administered a total of 74,055 doses out of almost 93,500 received.

About 3.1% of the residents tested as part of the latest batch received a positive result, and an average of 3.4% of those tested in the last two weeks have tested positive. Forty of Friday's positives came off rapid tests, while the rest came off traditional tests.

At least 830 of the state's deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are 29 infected nursing home residents in the state.

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Readers can reach Forum News Service reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at awillis@forumcomm.com.